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Sue and Settle: Regulating Behind Closed Doors

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 3:30pm

What is Sue and Settle?

"Sue and Settle" refers to when a federal agency agrees to a settlement agreement, in a lawsuit from special interest groups, to create priorities and rules outside of the normal rulemaking process.  The agency intentionally relinquishes statutory discretion by committing to timelines and priorities that often realign agency duties.  These settlement agreements are negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the public or affected parties.

As an example, between 2009 and 2012, EPA chose not to defend itself in over 60 lawsuits from special interest advocacy groups.  These cases resulted in settlement agreements and EPA publishing more than 100 new regulations - including the recent Clean Power Plan.

What are the Economic Implications of our Findings?

Recent Notices of Intent to Sue on EPA's Website

7/8/2015 CAA, State of North Carolina
Failure to Approve or Disapprove North Carolina's PM 2.5 State Implementation Submittal, dated September 5, 2013, pursuant to Clean Air Act Section 110(k).
6/17/2015 CWA, State of Maine
60-day NOI from State of Maine to sue EPA over failure to approve WQS in Indian country within the State where EPA had previously approved such WQS in State waters.
6/11/2015 CAA, Preserve Pepe'keo Health and Environment
Failure to take timely action regarding petition to object to the Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC ("Hu Honua") Title V operating permit.
6/1/2015 CAA, Sierra Club
For failure to take action on 2008 Ozone SIPs and related FIP commitments.
For a full list of EPA's Notices of Intent to Sue, visit http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html

What is New in Sue and Settle?

    June 2015

    See all -- Sue and Settle News Archive

    Interactive List of All Sue & Settle Cases

    Also see this alternate table, which lists court cases resolved by agency action in response to legal challenges.

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